Last Friday the Cleveland Indians had their home opener at Progressive Field. As in previous seasons a Tribe fan by the name of Pedro Rodriguez came dressed as the team’s mascot Chief Wahoo, complete with red-face, headdress and all.
But the pre-game festivities this year proved to be different than in years past. There to meet the fake warrior was a Chiricahua Apache, Robert Roche, the executive director of the American Indian Education Center. Robert looked at Pedro and asked: “Dude what the hell?”
In an interview with ESPN Cleveland on Tuesday, Mr. Roche said that during their brief conversation the fan refused to accept that his outfit and face paint was “offensive” to Native Americans. Faced with blunt criticism from the protester, Mr. Rodriguez replied: “Well, I’m just honoring you.”
The fan was similarly unyielding when he called in to the same radio station to defend his costume and makeup. “I’m a tribe fan, first and foremost, and I’ve been doing this for opening day now for 10 years, and I just love the Indians” he said. “Will I wear Chief Wahoo next year? Yes I will,” he added.
A reader of Lalo Alcaraz saw that first photo and thought it looked familiar. She then tweeted this eerie comparison:
I think I have a clever idea. We will learn to dress up the way white people in the nineteen-forties thought a typical ‘Pedro Rodriguez’ should look like. And on Friday afternoon we’ll all stand outside of his work. When he steps outside and asks why the hell we’re all wearing zoot suits and feathered fedoras, we’ll say that we’re paying him a great honor.